THE A team had been one of the few reasons for optimism in Welsh rugby recently, but they ruined that reputation yesterday with an exceedingly disappointing performance against Fiji. The tourists, making their first appearance in a trip that will also take in Ireland won far more easily than the scoreline suggests;their goal-kicker missing five easy penalties from six attempts.
Magnificent continuity and four fine tries which saw them putting in attacks from fifth and sixth-phase possession were evidence of their superiority.
Half of the Fijian squad consisted of overseas-based players from New Zealand and Australia, and they are being run by technical advisers, the All Blacks Brad Johnstone and Bernie Fraser. It was no wonder therefore that they achieved the more New Zealand-styled ball winning, allied to the traditional Fijian flair in handling and running.
The Fijian man of the match was the full-back Phillipe Rayasi, a magnificent attacking support runner, who time and again ripped open the Welsh defence and also had a tremendous penchant for counter-attack.
There were also moments of physical vigour in the game with a yellow card being shown to the Welsh centre, Garreth Thomas, for a punch. A couple of Fijians, including Rayasi, who brought down Proctor with a desperately high tackle which brought a penalty try, should also have been singled out for punishment.
The first score was a penalty goal by Adrian Davies, midway through the first half, and then Rasolosolo Bogisi kicked his only penalty before the Fijian No 8, Rouse, taking the ball from his retreating scrum, carried to the narrow side where Bogisi and Rayasi pierced the defence for a fine try by Bale, which made it 8-3 at half-time.
Wales regained the lead with the penalty try, which Davies converted. Fiji came back with a crucial inception try from the halfway line when Masirewa seized on a Proctor pass from Garreth Thomas and the flanker outran Adrian Davies to score under the post and Bogisi converted. Typically Fiji now cut loose and a long pass by Bogisi to Bari brought another try, followed by another try by Bale.
Wales A: J Thomas (Llanelli); A Harris (Swansea), M Taylor (Swansea) , G Thomas (Brigend), W Proctor (Llanelli); A Davis (Cardiff), P John (Pontypridd, capt); A Lewis (Cardiff), R McBryde (Llanelli), S John (Llanelli), G Prosser (Pontypridd), A Moore (Swansea), A Gibbs (Newbridge), O Lloyd (Llanelli), S Williams (Neath).
Fiji: P Rayasi (King Country); M Bari (Tavua), S C Sorovaki (Wellington), L Little (King Country), P Bale (Canterbury); R Bogisi (Nasi), J McClennan (Auckland); J Veitavaki (King Country, capt), E Batimala (Nadroga), E Naituvau (Suva), E Katalau (Poverty Bay), I Tawake (Nadroga), T Tamanivalu (Brothers), W Masirewa (Counties), D Rouse (Nadi).
Referee: P Thomas (France).Reuse content